Monday, November 23, 2009

PS Reads, and Gives You Writing Tips

Sunday night's event was a great close to a fabulous birthday weekend. The place was packed--standing room only. The seven readers represented a range of styles and genres. Perhaps the most exciting part though was the discussion afterward where the PS Reads authors and the audience (about half of whom identified themselves as writers of various genres) got into some meaty talk about writing and publishing. There was a heated debate about writing groups and workshops, which was an interesting continuation from some of the discussion that came up after Joanna Smith Rakoff's reading from the first reading of the weekend. It all started when Marc Schuster came out as a big advocate of writing groups, which he says are a great antidote to the stereotype of the solitary writer, locked away and banging on a typewriter. Then people shared some of their positive and negative experiences with writing groups, some tips on starting your own, and some opinions that they should be avoided altogether. Apparently, trust and honesty are important.

And because no matter what your opinion is on something, it is good to have a sense of humor. We learned that there are some great McSweeney's lists about writing groups. I didn't find the one that was referred to but there are a couple on there so check it out and if you find one that mentions space aliens lemme know.

We had some good open mike times, including a 93.6 year old woman who is now pursuing poetry in a new way. I didn't catch her name, but she said the whole thing, including middle names, so if you know it, lemme know.

Then there was some advice from both panel and audience members about submitting work for publication:
1. Study the people you are submitting to. If it is a literary magazine, read the kind of stuff they publish. You may be getting rejected because you don't fit the magazine, not because of the quality of your writing.
2. Read submission guidelines and follow them. It is like getting dressed for a job interview. You want to make a good impression.
3. Don't be discouraged. On average published work is rejected 23 times before publication.
4. Make multiple submissions, but if you get accepted somewhere tell the other mags ASAP. And maybe tell them about some new piece you wrote they might consider instead.
5. Also check out Duotrope's Digest, a free writer's resource listing over 2,700 current fiction and poetry publications.

by Moseph Speller

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